A three-wicket haul to Steve O’Keefe and quickfire half century to Nic Maddinson have put NSW in a strong position at stumps on day three of their Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland.
But outright victory may elude them after former Blues batsman Peter Forrest hit a valuable 97 to help Queensland past the follow on and to a total of 306.
Not that O’Keefe is willing to give up on grabbing six points.
“We’ve given ourselves every opportunity,” he said after play.
“…It’s going to be tough but we’re going to want six points.
“We’ve got 112 overs tomorrow (and) we’re going to need at least 80 to bowl them out.
“(A target) of anywhere north of 350 would be great.”
NSW finished the day 1-111, with Maddinson run out for 67 off 86 and first innings centurion Ryan Carters unbeaten on 38 holding an overall lead of 202.
Maddinson possibly signalled the Blues’ tactics when he attacked Nathan Hauritz (0-36), thumping the former Test spinner back over his head for consecutive sixes.
Earlier, fringe Australian one-day batsman Forrest thwarted his former teammates for 268 balls but fell desperately short of his ninth first class ton on Sunday.
“I had to work hard for my runs today,” he told AAP.
“I suppose that’s credit to NSW – they bowled very well.
“There’s runs out there if you’re prepared to put in and do the hard yards.”
O’Keefe (3-44) was the best performed bowler on Sunday, grabbing the wickets of James Hopes (56) and Michael Neser (23), before rattling Forrest’s stumps.
After losing time on Friday and Saturday to rain, the Blues may need a sporting declaration or something extraordinary to fall their way in order to secure an outright victory.
They would’ve needed to back up Doug Bollinger’s fiery spell from Saturday evening in order to put themselves into a position to secure back-to-back outright wins over Queensland, following last week’s 150-run win.
Bollinger attempted to do it all himself, sending down several aggressive spells – but was unable to add to his three overnight wickets.
The fiery left-armer did manage to hit Forrest with one particularly nasty bouncer, but the 28-year-old remained solid – though he did call for a replacement helmet.
“He’s back to his best, he’s bowling fast,” Forrest added.
“He puts in all day and he’s a really good competitor. You’re always in a contest with Doug.”
Forrest added 48 with Chris Lynn (28), 50 with Chris Hartley (28) and 87 with captain Hopes.
Forrest and Lynn looked in fine touch early on Sunday, and it took something special to break them up.
Lynn slashed at a wide ball from Trent Copeland (1-61) and four runs seemed the likely option before Kurtis Patterson snared a stunning one-handed catch in the gully.
The Bulls are batting a man down following a knee injury to paceman Matthew Gale, who will miss up to ten weeks.
In Perth, Victorian Cameron White cracked an unbeaten ton but the former Test and one-day representative acknowledged he still had plenty to do to stave off outright defeat against Western Australia.
Forced to follow-on after being bowled out for 198 in reply to WA’s 8(dec)-581, the Bushrangers were 5-272 in their second innings – still trailing by 111 going into the final day at the WACA Ground.
White (110 not out) reached his century just before stumps, belting 15 fours and one six in an entertaining knock.
Dan Christian was the other not out batsman on 10, having shared a 44-run partnership with White, who knows there is still a long way to go to save the game.
“It’s nice to get a few runs, but there is some more work to do tomorrow, hopefully we can push on,” White said.
The wickets were shared around by the WA bowlers, Michael Hogan starting the inroads by removing Peter Handscomb (27) just before lunch.
Stand-in Victoria skipper Rod Quiney moved past 50 with his eighth four of the innings, but was on his way next ball with Mitch Marsh (1-53) knocking over his stumps.
Ashton Agar (1-45) clean bowled Glenn Maxwell for a patient 35, while the recalled David Hussey was unable to back-up his first innings 85 when he was dismissed for nine off the bowling of Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Victoria started the day at 7-158 in their first innings, adding 40 before losing their last wicket just before lunch.
In Adelaide, promising Tasmanian opener Jordan Silk became the second young batting talent in as many days to overshadow the Ashes Test hopefuls in the Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval.
The 21-year-old was 70 not out at stumps to power the Tigers to 1-141 and a narrow 35-run lead with one day remaining.
Silk combined with Ashes aspirant Ed Cowan (66 not out) for a 139-run partnership that swung the momentum in the visitors’ favour and gives them hope of walking away with a draw.
There’s unlikely to be enough time for the Tigers to set a decent victory target and leave enough overs to bowl SA out on day four.
The Redbacks took first-innings points after being bowled out for 397 prior to tea on Sunday.
Following in the footsteps of teenager Travis Head, who smacked 98 in the Redbacks’ first innings on Saturday, Silk registered his second half-century in three Shield matches this season.
With the likes of SA pair Phil Hughes and Michael Klinger, as well as teammates Cowan, Alex Doolan and James Faulkner fighting for Ashes selectors’ attention, Silk stood tall.
A century on Monday would be Silk’s fourth in just nine Shield appearances.
“It’d be nice (to score a hundred), I’m happy with the way I’m going but there’s still a long way to go,” Silk said.
“I feel really good about my game at the moment, I’ve been tight in defence and feel good enough to go on with a big innings and play a few shots.”
Power hitting was on the agenda for SA early in the day and they piled on 206 runs in barely two sessions after skipper Johan Botha (65) and wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman (68) belted half-centuries.
Fast bowler Kane Richardson was also in a fiery mood thumping 49 runs from just 29 balls including six boundaries and two monstrous sixes.
Adelaide Oval’s revolutionary drop-in wicket which has come under fire for being too flat and slow since being rolled out at the ground in late September, looked to be offering a little more to the spin bowlers.
Tasmania left-arm spin duo Xavier Doherty (5-96) and Clive Rose (2-76) felt the brunt of Richardson’s hitting but picked up vital wickets along the way.
“The Adelaide Oval wicket is definitely starting to play up a bit and I think it will do a little bit more for a leg spinner going around the wicket throwing it into the rough,” Silk said.
“There is a little bit of turn there, but in terms of swing there hasn’t been a hell of a lot.”